The Memory House: A Love Story in Two Acts by Jenetta James
Firstly - a great big ‘thank you’ to Heather for having me. It is a great pleasure and an honour to visit.
A few people have asked me recently what I have read that influenced me to try and write myself. I was a bit embarrassed as, at first, I didn’t really know what to answer. I mean, I could say ‘it was all those years toiling over James Joyce and reading Chaucer in middle English’, but that would be completely untrue. Those years spurred me on in academic terms, but the books I read never made me want to write my own story.
It was all the books I ever read for fun, for pleasure, for unfettered indulgence, that turned me into a writer (of sorts). And, when I came to make a list, I found, strangely, that they all had either both feet, or at least one foot, in the past.
So what follows here is a quick run-down of my top 5 novelists who made me want to be a writer.
In no particular order….
1. Anya Seaton. I read most of the Anya Seaton novels when I was a teenager and they are definitely still around in my head. My obsession with dual time lines probably began with her seminal re-incarnation story ‘Green Darkness’ which will give you the shivers if anything will. Her ‘Katherine’ is also a big favourite, and like much of Seaton’s writing, flings you into another place.
2. Kathleen Winsor. I cried at the end of ‘Forever Amber’ and I’m not ashamed to admit it. My copy is the most appalling battered old thing, but I do love it so. There is so much passion and epic in the story and its the best fictional account of the plague that I recall reading.
3. Jean Plaidy. This lady was the most amazingly prolific novelist and she also wrote under other names (in fact, come to that, Jean Plaidy was not actually her name either). I collected the Jean Plaidy books by scouting ceaselessly round charity shops when I was a teenager, and I pretty much got ‘em all. I remember her Anne Boleyn story best of all, even now.
4. Sarah Waters. The writer of the best sex scene in literature and evidence, were evidence needed, that less is more in that department. (For anyone wishing to seek it out, it is in ‘Fingersmith’, but beware, it is a case of ‘blink and you miss it’). A wonderful wonderful writer.
5. Winston Graham. Because who could forget Poldark?! I love the later books as well as the earlier, much televised ones. And he also wrote a whole load of other books, in different periods, about different characters. He had that wonderful skill of moving between times with ease and fluency.
I’d love to hear if any of these old favourites are shared with others? Or is there some glaring omission from my list? Love to hear your comments.